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Ba

July 17, 2012

Ba – http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/ba

noun

  1. (Egyptian mythology) the soul, represented as a bird with a human head.
  2. the chemical symbol for barium
  3. (Scottish) the stuffed leather ball used in these games

Edith feeds the pigeons in the square park every day. They wait for her each morning next to her bench, a hooting, fluttering mandala. She shuffles into the park, dragging her tartan shopping basket on wheels, hunched against the cold. Even in summer she wears a thick tweed coat and two jumpers. Her face is a collapse of wrinkles, with raisin eyes and thick square glasses. She reaches into the depths of her basket and takes our a paper bag full of leftover stale buns that the baker gives her each evening. The pigeons dance and dip to eat the crumbs. As she feeds them she sings, a wordless crooning that seems to echo the bird’s chirruping song.

One Thursday morning, in wan September sunshine, the birds seem different. That is not quite right, they are the same, but they look different. She peers over her hand-me-down glasses, and is surprised to see that each pigeon has a human head. She would be frightened, but they move the same as normal, and feel like the pigeons she always feeds. Look! That one with the deformed foot is a bully, even with a human head. That one with the white splodge on its wing hangs back shyly, coyly putting her now human-head on one side until Edith feels sorry for her and throws her an extra big crumb. Edith decides that she should continue with her routine, as they are still her birds, her little flock. As she tips the brown paper upside down, she feels a sharp pain in her chest. It feels like heartburn, but no, it goes on and on. She falls, clutching her heart. The pigeons cover her in a mantle of grey, and sing in mourning or celebration.

The park is always busy at this time, with commuters walking to work, joggers, and young mums and children going to the swing set. Although Edith was an park institution, and has fallen dramatically, no one stops to help her. In fact, there are three people who walk directly past her, rushing to avoid staring at the pigeon covered crone: Eric, a young ambitious businessman, the tiny pinstripes on his suit as crisp as a steel cable; Lydia, a well dressed woman of a certain age, rushing to her date with her personal trainer; Marcus, an architect for an important firm, scurrying to pitch an office building to an important new client. Each saw Edith and the birds, each passed by thinking that someone surely will help. Someone else, someone less busy.

At the end of the rush hour at the park, the human-headed pigeons flew off in a great whir of wings. Edith’s body was gone. In the next week, Eric, Lydia and Marcus each disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Tiny grey and white feathers were found in their beds. The flock of Bas now has an extra member; a small, ragged pigeon topped by a face with a collapse of wrinkles and raisin eyes.

Next entry’s noun:

Cab

noun

1.a taxi

b. (as modifier) ⇒ a cab rank

2. the enclosed compartment of a lorry, locomotive, crane, etc, from which it is driven or operated

3. (formerly) a light horse-drawn vehicle used for public hire

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